WOLF CREEK- During this time last year, the San Juan Mountains were blanketed with the first dusting of snow and Wolf Creek had the earliest first opening day in the ski resort’s history. This year seems to be lagging in the snow department, but with a possible snowstorm on the horizon, it is only a matter of time before the resort will open its slopes and the 2019 ski season will slide to a start.
According to a statement provided by the resort, “Wolf Creek Ski Area had a great season last year with a year-end total of almost 500 inches of snow by Easter Sunday. Snowstorms, flurries and colder weather continued into late spring, which was a common occurance across most of the United States. Attendance was strong throughout last season with the prolific powder gifted by Wolf Creek’s unique microclimate. For the past six years, Wolf Creek has been in a construction phase, this summer’s focus has been on fine-tuning the mountain, base area facilities and finishing up a few projects that are near completion.
The half-decade of construction began with the Treasure Stoke lift debuting in the 2013-2014 season. The previous Ctec Triple Treasure Chair was then transformed the following season to become a refurbished beginner and intermediate lift named Elma. Elma was designed to assist guests in returning to the base area and providing access to an area of the mountain that was previously underutilized. The Lynx, a covered conveyor lift, then followed and helped redesign and compliment the novice skiers’ first day at Wolf Creek by transporting guests to the Lynx Adult Learning Center. The induction of the Charity Jane Express to the Wolf Creek Lift System came in December 2018 with the high-speed detachable quad benefiting all ability levels and bolstering a previously underutilized 55 acres. Beginner Ski Packages now include access to the Charity Chair; making the five beginner lifts available to those enrolled in first and second Day Beginner Lessons.
Wolf Creek’s enormous and on-going campaign of reducing the dead trees from the plight of the spruce bark beetles within the ski area perimeter will also benefit skiers of all ability levels. This summer a new trail called, Orion’s Beltway, is being cut and constructed. This run will be for strong beginners and intermediates by accessing Pitch’s Gate or Serendipity runs; the trails lead into Orion’s Beltway and continue until Lower Feather Duster appears and then continues onto the Charity Jane Express bottom terminal. Wolf Creek employed a helicopter service this summer, as done in the previous 10 years, to airlift as many dead trees as economically possible out of the ski area. With the forest floor being littered with fallen dead and blown over trees, the removal process is critical to allow for early season access and better conditions during low snowfall years. Although the cost is high to fly the dead trees out of the forest with a helicopter the results are far better in maintaining the integrity of the terrain. Airlifting the trees reduces erosion and protects the watershed. Since 2013 Wolf Creek has expanded and formulated a lift network and trail system for skiers and boarders of all ability levels to utilize, explore and enjoy Wolf Creek’s 1,600 acres.
The season is expected to be similar to last year and hopes for early snow are still alive and well. The resort is preparing for the coming season by continuing work on lifts, the grounds and construction of the new runs that will be added this season. The resort is planning on a tentative opening by Thanksgiving weekend!